Barry Sussman, Washington Post Watergate editor, dead at 87

Barry Sussman, a key editor who helped oversee the reporting of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they covered the Watergate break-in, has died. He was 87.

Though not as well known as the more flamboyant Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, Sussman played an indispensable role in the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the scandal that resulted in President Richard M. Nixon’s 1974 resignation.

As the District of Columbia editor, Sussman was part of the story from the very beginning, when the paper learned of a break-in of the Democratic National headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington on June 17, 1972. The burglary was a local news story, so Sussman assigned Woodward to it. Bernstein later joined in.

“Sussman had the ability to see facts and lock them in his memory where they remained poised for instant recall,” Woodward and Bernstein wrote as co-authors of “All the President’s Men” (1974), their account of the Watergate episode. “More than any other editor at The Post, or Bernstein and Woodward, Sussman became a walking compendium of Watergate knowledge, a reference source to be summoned when even the library failed.”

Former Washington Post editor Barry Sussman assigned the Watergate breakin scoop to Bob Woodward (left).
Bettmann Archive
Tourists read President Richard Nixon’s announcement of his resignation on the Washington Star-News in front of the White House on August 8, 1974.
Bettmann Archive
Former Washington Post editor Barry Sussman was 87-years-old.
Reporter Carl Bernstein praised Barry Sussman for being a reliable “reference source” while investigating the Watergate breakin.
ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images

Bernstein told The New York Times: “We owe him an enormous debt of gratitude. He was a great editor.”

Sussman’s daughter said the cause of her father’s death was unknown.

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